Monday, December 31, 2007

George H Wisner vs, Sarah Camfield, etal - Part 2

For me this portion of the document was pure gold. I previously had no information on the children and grandchildren of Anthony Wisner.

Your orator further showeth unto your Honor that the said William Wisner at his death left surviving him the following named children all of whom are now living. Sarah A Camfield the wife of Michael Camfield. Mary E Hall wife of William H Hall. Henry S Wisner. George A Wisner. William A Wisner and Marshall W Wisner who are six of his heirs at law.

Your orator further showeth unto your Honor that the said William Wisner at his death left surviving him one other child who was his heir at law named Prentice M Wisner who died intestate on or about the 30th day of April A. D. 1879 leaving him surviving no children or child or descendants of children or child but leaving him surviving a widow Fanny Wisner who is now living.

Your orator further showeth unto your Honor that said William Wisner at his death left surviving him two grandchildren named Mary Lyke and Alice M Madden who were his heirs at law they being the children of his son Anthony Wisner who died intestate on or about the 17th of April A.D. 1865 leaving him surviving said children and a widow the mother of said children now named Cynthia Carner the wife of George Carner.

Your orator further showeth unto your Honor that the said Alice M Madden died on or about the 15th day of September A.D. 1881 intestate leaving neither husband or children or child or descendants of children or child. The said Mary Lyke her sister and the said Cynthia Carner and the said George A. Valentine and Eva Valentine herein after named being her and her only heirs at law.

Your orator further showeth unto your Honor that the said William Wisner at his death left him surviving two great grandchildren who are now living named George A Valentine and Eva Valentine they being the children of his granddaughter Sophia Valentine who died intestate on or about the the 30th day of January A.D. 1875 and his heirs at law said Sophia Valentine being the daughter of Anthony Wisner aforesaid.

Your orator further showeth unto your Honor that the said Sarah A Camfield, May E Hall, Henry S Wisner, George A Wisner, William A Wisner, Marshall W Wisner, Prentice Wisner, Mary Lyke, Alice M Madden, George A Valentine and Eva Valentine are the only heirs at law whom the said William Wisner left him surviving and that said Alice M Madden died intestate.

And your orator further showeth unto tour Honor that George A Valentine and Eva Valentine are infants.

The document goes on asking for the deed to be granted to George H Wisner. All the names are listed several times. On March 12, 1882 the court ordered William H Hall to deed over the property to George H Wisner.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

George H Wisner vs. Sarah A Camfield, etal - Part 1

From Lake Co, IL Circuit Court, 12/12/1881, Case# A1390, George H Wisner vs
Sarah A Canfield etal, (the etal being all the heirs of his grandfather William

George H Wisner is asking for the deed to his grandfather’s property. Nowhere is George H Wisner’s relationship to William Wisner stated. The first several pages of the file are summons documents. The following is the basis for George's case. I would be happy to share the entire file with any other interested descendants.

This indenture made and entered into this twenty fifth day of November in the year one thousand eight-hundred and seventy one between William Wisner of the town of Avon, County of Lake, in the state of Illinois party of the first part and George H Wisner of the town of Avon, County of Lake, state of Illinois party of the second part Witnesseth

That the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand paid by said party of the second part and in consideration of the covenants and ???? -hereinafter contained to be kept done and performed by said second party and in consideration of the agreements contained in one certain promissory note ????? even dates herewith made executed and delivered by said party of the second part to the said party of the first part payable as follows, together with other covenants herein mentioned. Said note payable ten (10) years from date for three thousand dollars without interest and the party of the second part agrees to keep and provide for the said party of the first part and his wife Elizabeth Wisner during their natural lives in sickness and in health in a suitable manner and give them a decent burial and put to their graves suitable grave stones after their deaths as part of the consideration these covenants and the party of the second part agrees ??? he will not sell or convey the herein after described premises during the lifetime of the parties mentioned above. The party of the first part agrees to sell to said party of the second part all that certain piece or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Lake and the state of Illinois."

A legal description of the property follows excluding parcel previously deeded to William H Hall and a cart path deeded to Samuel Edwards and William Moore. Then continues:

",said party of the first part further covenants and agrees for himself his heirs executors and administrators that upon full and complete payment of the same money and covenants in said promissory note specified for the payment of the same, and upon full and complete performance of all the covenants and agreements hereinafter contained on the part of the party of the second part to be kept and performed in all things and at the time thenin stipulated that he will convey to the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns by good and sufficient warranty deed free from all incumbrance the premises above described.
And the said party of the second part for himself his heirs executors administrators and assigns covenants and ??? that he will well ?????? pay before sale all taxes and assements which shall or may be made levied or assessed upon said premises, or any part thereof during the continuance of this agreement, and one dollar for the expenses of making a deed. And it is further hereby agreed and covenanted by and between the parties hereto, that time is and shall be deemed and taken to be of the essence of this agreement: and in case default shall be made in the payment of said before described promissory note or any or either of these or any
???? ???? of ??? ??? the same shall become due and payable by the terms ??? or no case the said party of the second part shall fail to observe perform and keep any and all the covenants herein before mentioned and set forth on the part of said second party to be kept done and performed therein, ????, and in this case this agreement shall be absolutely null and void and of no force and effect whatsoever, and all payments of due sum or sums of money which may or shall have been paid heron by the said second party or his assigns, said party of the first part and his legal representatives may have and retain as damages force breech of this contract and said party of the first part may take full and immediate possession of the said above described premises as his first and former estate, using all the force which may be necessary to obtain the actual possession of said premises or any portion of and such entry by force (if necessary) shall not be held or ???? as a trespass nor shall forces such nor in any wise unlawful."

It was signed by both parties and witnessed by William H Hall.
The agreement was recorded in Lake County book 37 of Mortgages on pages 305-306.

The record goes on to state the following:
On June 27, 1881 William H Hall was appointed administrator of the Estate of William Wisner.
On November 25, 1881 George H Wisner paid his note in full to William H Hall.
On December 12, 1881 George H Wisner sued William H Hall and the descendants of William Wisner to have the deed for the property made out to him.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Crooked Lake Review

I spent much of the day looking for articles on the history of the salt works in Syracuse, NY. One of my searches took me to The Crooked Lake Review. They have an amazing number of articles on central and western New York history.
THE CROOKED LAKE REVIEW is a local history quarterly for
the Conhocton, Canisteo, Tioga, Chemung and Genesee River Valleys,
and for the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario Regions.

There is a search box at the top of the page to help you find articles in the 142 issues of the magazine. I got side tracked by other articles about Syracuse. There is a wealth of information on the Erie Canal. There are several articles about the Clinton House in Rochester that I want to read. Oh, and there are several articles on the salt industry, too!

William Wisner Census Transcriptions

William Wisner Census Transcriptions

Cicero, Onondaga Co, NY pg 96
listed just after his brother-in-law, Egbert Badgley

2m >10, Prentice M Wisner b 1815, Anthony B Wisner b 1817
1m 26-45, William Wisner b 1783
1f >10, Sarah Ann Wisner b 1817
1f 26-45, Elizabeth Badgley Wisner b 1791

Source Citation: Year: 1820; Census Place: Cicero, Onondaga, New York; Roll: M33_67; Page: 183; Image: 195.

Manlius, Onondaga Co, NY pg 386;
1210001000000- 0110010000

2m >5, Henry S Wisner, b 1826 & George A Wisner b 1829
1m 5-10, William Abner Wisner b 1824
2m 10-15, Prentice M Wisner b 1815, Anthony B Wisner b 1817
1m 40-50, William Wisner b 1783
1f 5-10, Maryetta Wisner B 1821
1f 10-15, Sarah Ann Wisner b 1817
1f 30-40, Elizabeth Badgley Wisner b 1791

Source Citation: Year: 1830; Census Place: Manlius, Onondaga, New York; Roll: 100; Page: 386.

Salina, Onondaga Co, NY pg 48;
1m 5-10, Marshall Wirt Wisner, b 1833
2m 10-15, Henry S Wisner, b 1826 & George A Wisner b 1829
1m 15-20, William Abner Wisner b 1824
2m 20-30, Prentice M Wisner b 1815, Anthony B Wisner b 1817
1m 50-60, William Wisner b 1783
1f 5-10, Margaret E Wisner b 1831
1f 15-20, Maryetta Wisner B 1821
1f 20-30 , Sarah Ann Wisner b 1817
1f 40-50, Elizabeth Badgley Wisner b 1791

Source Citation: Year: 1840; Census Place: Onondaga, New York; Roll: 316; Page: 48.

Avon, Lake Co, IL
Family # 70

William Wisnener 67 m Farmer PA
Betsey 60 f NY
Prentice 33 m NY
William 30 m NY
Henry 45 m NY (s/b 25)
Wirt 17 m NY
Fanny 31 f (Fanny Reed, wife of Prentice)
James (?) 15 m (was not with family in 1840!)

Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Avon, Lake, Illinois; Roll: M432_114; Page: 156; Image: 313.

George H 2 m NY (s/o William A per 1860 census)

Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Avon, Lake, Illinois; Roll: M432_114; Page: 156; Image: 314.

Avon, Lake Co, IL, pg 428
Dwelling # 3176, Family # 3146

W Wisner 77 m PA farmer 2000/1000
Elizabeth “ 69 f NY
Henry “ 32 m NY
George “ 30 m NY
Ann “ 18 f Ohio (Julia Ann Barto, wife of George)

Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Avon, Lake, Illinois; Roll: M653_193; Page: 823; Image: 429.

Avon, Lake Co, IL, pg 6
Listed just after son-in-law, William H Hall
Dwelling # 39, House # 39

Wisner William 87 m w NY farmer 5500/400
“ Elizabeth 79 f w NY keeps house
“ George 22 m w NY farmer (son of William A Wisner & unk.)
“ Julia 16 f w Ills at home (daughter of William A Wisner & Muriam Hammond)
“ Henry 44 m w NY farmer

Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Avon, Lake, Illinois; Roll: M593_242; Page: 529; Image: 49.

Friday, December 28, 2007

2008 To Do List

Well it seems I still have most of my 2007 list left. I knew that some of the items from last year were wishful thinking but I honestly thought that I would get more done. I know that come spring my garden and The Bus will take up a considerable amount of my time (and finances). I would like to get to Mom's more often than I do now. If I can work next summer I will even though my whole body aches at just the thought! Some of my goals for next year have changed from the list that I made last year.

Very doable items:
  • Scan, scan and scan some more
  • Get to Mom's more often and get her talking about her memories
  • Transcribe the memories Mom has already written down
  • Add at least five new people to WeRelate each week. I know that isn't many but I want to set goals I can reach. Also I need to invite some distant cousins to add to what I have there.
  • Continue to "fix" my file. I have duplicates to sort out and source citations that need improvement.
  • Mine the three data bases I have subscriptions to. I can transcribe on down time at work and after the subscriptions run out.
  • Post more family data here with the hope that will lead to more connections.
  • Learn how to create digital scrapbooks.
  • Take my camera to work and get cemetery pictures on my down time.
Wish-list items:
  • Get to the Ontario County Raims. While I'm down that way I'd like to visit some more of the cemeteries in Phelps and Bristol.
  • Travel to either Michigan or New Hampshire to do some research. If I can get Mom to travel I'll go to Michigan. If she's not up to it I'll probably stay closer to home and head to Westmoreland, NH with plenty of other stops. I hope I can do this on my April break as it never seems to work out in the summer.
  • Get to the Jefferson County Historical Society to see what they have. Also, locate the graves of my Kelly ancestors in Adams, NY.
  • Finish the Carlisle book. At some point I have to stop researching and finish it but there always seems to be one or two more things I want to find first. I guess I can always edit it later.
  • Get to the library and the FHC on a regular basis. If I'm going to travel to Syracuse it will be to see Mom so I doubt I'll get to the library. There are two FHC's, each about 35 minutes away, with one being much closer to work. I just have to adjust my schedule to be able to get there when they're open.
This was written for the 39th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene. What will you be working on in 2008?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wisner Bible Records

Holy Bible
Containing the Old and New Testaments
Translated out of
The Original Tongues
And with the
Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised

For The American Bible Society
By D & G Bruce

Printed by A Paul, 72 Nassau St
New York

First page of entries:

William Wisner
was born march the
27th -----------1783

Elizabeth Wisner
was born July the 3

Printice M Wisner
was born october the
26th --- 1815

Sarah ann Wisner
was born october the
9th 1817

Second page of entries:

Anthony B Wisner
was born November
the 28th ----- 1819

Mary ette Wisner
was born october the
14th ------ 1821

William A Wisner
was born April the
2nd ------- 1824

Henry S Wisner
was born June the
21 - 1826

Third page of entries:

George A Wisner
was born may the
24th ------- 1829

Margaret E Wisner
was born September
the 16th ------- 1831

Marshall Wirt Wisner
was born december
the 29th -------1833

(in a different hand writing)
Anthony 81
Mary Bookout 80?

Fourth page of entries:

William Wisner died
Nov 25th 1877

Elizabeth Wisner died
July 22nd 1877

Fifth page of entries:

Mrs Elizabeth Wisner
9 ½ 1828

Mary /4 Wisner Hall

Emmet D Hall

Sixth page of entries:


Transcription notes

All of the entries on the first three pages (except as noted at the end of page 3) appear to have been written by the same person and all at the same time.

On page 3 Anthony refers to Anthony Badgley. He and Mary Bookout were the parents of Elizabeth Wisner. I have no idea what the numbers mean. Anthony was 79 when he died and Mary 67.

The fourth page appears to have been written by the same person as the other entries but at a different time.

The names and dates on the fifth page do not have any relevance to events that I am aware of.

The sixth page I believe was someone calculating the age of death of Marshall W Wisner.

I believe that most of the entries were made by Marshall W Wisner or some other member of his family because the bible was handed down through his line.

I have only photo copies of the bible pages that were sent to me by a cousin who is in possession of the bible.

Census Questions

Here is a clip of the 1850 census for the family of William Wisner in Avon, Lake Co, IL. We have parents, William and Betsy, followed by sons Prentice, William, Henry and Wirt. Fanny was the wife of Prentice.

On the next page (not shown here), same household, is George H Wisner, age 2, who I believe is the grandson of William & Betsey, son of William Jr.

So here is where I need help!

What is the last name shown?
Edited to ad: I worded this poorly. I am looking for the name on the last line.

Since Fanny is listed after the immediate family is it probable that the last name shown is not a child of William & Betsey? Is the order meaningless?

What age is Henry?

I may have found a clue in Wisners in America but I'd like to know what others see here. Am I just seeing what I want to see? Should I be concerned about the order the names are listed?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Looking for Irish Records

I'm not at a point where I'm ready to start researching my Irish roots. My Carlisle ancestors are believed to have come from Ireland in the 1720's but some records indicate that they may have actually been from Scotland. My Kelly ancestors most likely came through Ontario, Canada in the early 1850's but I have no idea where in Ireland. I still have not learned the first name of my great-great-grandfather Graham who was most likely born between 1820 & 1825 in Michigan. Again, it is believed that the family roots will be found in Ireland but I don't have any idea who the immigrant ancestors are yet.

At some point in the future I will hopefully have the information that I need to start looking into Irish records so where will I start? Back in July, Stephen Danko was kind enough to write some tips on how to research my husband's Italian ancestors through the Family History Library. Steve's article can be found here. All of the excellent advice he gave me should help me get started on my Irish ancestors.

Kimberly Powell as a good article on getting started and why it is important to know where in Ireland your ancestors came from before you can search effectively.

Another tried and true place to start is GenWeb. Their site for Ireland has County links arranged by provinces. Northern Ireland has it's own site. As with all GenWeb sites, records are submitted by volunteers and vary by location. There are also links to other sites that I can check out.

Cyndi's List has more links for Ireland than I could check out in a week.

The Fianna Guide to Irish Genealogy has some more good links and tips.

These links will give me a good number of places to start that will undoubtedly lead to more knowledge and/or other links.

This was written for the second edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture hosted by Lisa at Small-leaved Shamrock.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

December 24 - Christmas Eve
How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve?

When I was growing up Christmas Eve was usually a long boring day. If there was snow we'd go sledding down the side yard. (Our house was built into the side of a small hill.) If there wasn't snow we'd watch TV or read. In the evening we'd make sure that our stockings were all set and leave out a plate of cookies and glass of milk for Santa.

In later years I'd either hang out with friends and maybe go to Mass with them or else I was working.

John's family had a tradition of celebrating Christmas together on Christmas Eve. Everyone made sure that they had the day off and they all gathered at the home of his sister, Ann. John has three siblings and each family had three kids plus his step-mother and her mother for a total of 22 plus anyone else that may have been brought along. Everyone bought for all of their nieces and nephews and the women exchanged Christmas ornaments.

We'd see my family either later Christmas Eve or on Christmas day depending on the visitation schedule with my ex.

In 1989 we moved to Akron but we still came back every year for Christmas Eve. In 1994 everything changed. We moved back to CNY but my brother and two of John's siblings moved out of state. Two of Ann's kids moved away about that time too. Christmas Eve was moved to my sister-in-law, Marie's house. It was about that time that my mother and sister started joining us on Christmas Eve with John's family. I'm not certain which year Christmas Eve moved to our house but we hosted for several years. At some point our best friends started joining us. They are family to us. 2001 was the last year that we saw the extended family at Christmas time. Ann had moved back to CNY and several of the nieces and nephews were able to come home for the holiday. I think that year was the best steal bingo year we ever had.

Christmas 2001 with extended family, Liverpool, NY

We found ourselves transfered again in 2002. Amazingly, my sister, mother and all of our kids and grandchildren came out to spend Christmas Eve with us. Some stayed over and others traveled down and back the same day.
Christmas 2002, Akron, NY

In 2003 we all traveled to my sister's in Ellisburg and we had a great time! The weather cooperated so we didn't get snowed in. We all love to party at Country Girl's but it can be a long, miserable drive in winter.
Christmas 2003, Ellisburg, NY

We moved back to CNY in 2004, and as there are just the two us we bought a small house. Christmas Eve was at our house and although everyone had a great time things were a bit cramped. So the last two years we had our party at PJ and Jae's. It has gotten progressively harder to find a time when everyone can be together. In 2006 the Christmas party was held together with the big birthday party on the 16th so Christmas Eve was a bit sad for me last year.
Christmas 2005, Pennellville, NY

Christmas 2006, Pennellville, NY

This year PJ & Jae have separated. Bean and Country Girl both offered to host but I decided it might be easier if I just hosted an open house this year. BJ has to work and PJ probably does too. He and Jae will be sharing the girls so this way we can be sure to see them. Country Girl and Mom can come early if the forecast for lake-effect doesn't change. Bean can work around the kids nap times. And if everyone shows up at the same time that will be OK too.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our First Christmas Eve

December 23 - Christmas Sweetheart Memories
Do you have a special memory of a
first Christmas present from a sweetheart?
How did you spend your first Christmas together?

John and I had been dating about nine months at Christmas. I still had my place and he had his. That first Christmas Eve he came over (after dropping PJ off at his ex's) and helped me put together toys for BJ and Bean. They weren't the most complicated toys so it was a pleasant evening spent together. All these years later I don't recall how we spent Christmas day or even if we saw each other Christmas day, but I'll always remember that Christmas Eve.
Christmas 1982

My kids and I moved into John's house the following year and there were many more years spent putting toys together. This year will be our 25th Christmas Eve together but we have no plans to assemble anything.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Advent Calendar

December 22 - Christmas Grab Bag
Author’s choice.
Please post from a topic that helps
you remember Christmases past!

This is my Advent Calendar. I made it in the early 1990's when I was a member of Limerick Home Bureau in Akron, NY. The women in that chapter were wonderful to me and made me feel welcome when I was new to the community. Many of the ornaments on my tree were also gifts from this group of women. I've been a member of several different chapters and I am a past chairman of both Orleans and Onondaga Counties but when I think about Home Bureau my fondest memories are of the Limerick group and our meetings in an old one room school house.

My kids would alternate days adding ornaments to the tree. These days I'm a bit senile so when the grandkids come they update the tree to reflect the correct number of ornaments for me.

An Advent Calendar
count down to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Christmas Music List

December 21 - Christmas Music
What songs did your family listen to during Christmas?
Did you ever go caroling?
Did you have a favorite song?

Being a bit under the weather and behind on just about everything I offer this repost from December 22, 2006 on my other blog.

I love most of the music of the season. My list is quite eclectic! By no means all inclusive, here's a few to check out.

I've already mentioned that I love Bing Crosby, especially White Christmas and The Little Drummer Boy.

The Oakridge Boys - Thank God for Kids (I don't know the family in the video but how sweet!)

Blue Christmas, I prefer Jon Bon Jovi but most of you will think of Elvis.

Happy Christmas, John Lennon Still dreaming of World Peace.

Let There Be Peace on Earth, Vanessa Williams - a mini theme here

Bells Will Be Ringing, The Eagles

The Little Saint Nick, The Beach Boys

Snoopy and the Red Barron Chistmas This was my kids favorite when they were young. The kids at work love it too.

I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas From my childhood. Go ahead sing along!

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, Elmo and Patsey - this one is pure fun.

It's Christmas Time in Syracuse, Benny Mardones. I couldn't find a link and I guess you'd have to be from here to like the song. Bean and I have been to see Benny together, the only concert we've been to together.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas and Deceased Relatives

December 20 - Christmas and Deceased Relatives
Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas?
How did your family honor deceased
family members at Christmas?

My family has no traditions in regard to the departed, at any time of the year. I know this year we'll be thinking about Aunt Margaret, who passed away on December 23rd last year. She is the only one that I can think of that died close to the holiday. In any year where there has been a loss there is some sadness and reflection.

Every year I do think a bit about my Grandpa Berry when I go shopping. He was a tough guy to buy anything for. If he needed something he bought it. He had no hobbies. So every year we bought him Old Spice or another tie that he did not need. Many years he wouldn't even open his gifts when we were there. In 1981 I found myself broke and trying to get my shopping done at the last minute. I went to Woolworth's and they had men's sweaters with suede elbow patches marked way down and they were just the type he always wore. I figured he didn't really need another one but I could afford it so I bought it. I figured he'd be disappointed by my gift choice again.

Grandpa was not a demonstrative man. He would accept hugs but he never gave them. After he opened my gift that year he got right up out of his chair and came and gave me a hug. He was thrilled that I had taken the time to think about what he liked and what he might need. I know he gave me a gift that year, probably much needed cash, but I really don't remember. I wish I'd told him that that hug was the best gift he ever gave to me.

An Advent Calendar count
down to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Shopping

December 19 - Christmas Shopping
How did your family handle Christmas Shopping?
Did anyone finish early or
did anyone start on Christmas Eve?
My father rarely allowed my mother to drive his car so we frequently took the bus to Syracuse to shop. I don't remember her buying Christmas gifts when we were with her but I do remember the big department stores downtown at Christmas. She also did a lot of catalog shopping. When my brother and I were in school I imagine she went shopping with my grandmother or her friend who both had cars.

I wrote about my Aunt Ruby while back. She would shop sales all year round and keep items on shelves in her basement. In October she'd go downstairs and pick out gifts for us and mail the package off. Mom would put the box in our basement until Christmas. It was hard waiting two months not knowing what was in those packages. She always wrapped her gifts in white tissue paper and I spied one of her gifts when I was going through old photos.
Christmas 1971

When I was in high school I worked for Cooks Dept. store and was able to shop for presents myself. Being able to buy gifts with money that I had earned made me feel like an adult. I would spend hours at the mall with my friends and pick things up as I could afford them.

I still love to give gifts but I'm not nearly as fond of shopping. This is the first year in recent memory that I didn't do the majority of my shopping online. There was a time when most of the shopping was done by Thanksgiving. With six grandkids to buy for now I'm not quite finished yet this year! I have just a couple of things to get tomorrow. For my kids I go the gift certificate route. The surprise is always where I'll decided to get them from as that changes each year. We also have six December birthdays to shop for and I always try to get them done first.

John and I will not shop for each other until after Christmas. We'll make a day of it on 26th and see what after Christmas bargains we can find.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Very Special Christmas Stocking

When I was 20 and a day I received the special gift of a baby boy. He arrived three weeks early, weighing only 6 lbs 8 oz. He thrived and grew rapidly and all was right with the world.

I found myself pregnant again, before my body had fully healed. My due date was BJ's birthday, December 17th. It turns out that all was not as right with my world as I had thought, my husband was seeing someone else. I struggled both physically and emotionally for most of this pregnancy. Around November 10th I was taken out of work and told the I'd have my baby "any day now." Things at home continued to be stressful. I was still in a fantasy world that we could work things out. BJ had more than made up for his low birth weight and was in no hurry to walk. Somehow I managed to strain the ligaments to my uterus. My back hurt constantly. I fought just to get through each day.

December 17th came and went. The doctor continued to say any day now. Sonograms were not performed back then but the baby's heart beat was strong. I finally went into labor in the early evening on the 24th. On Christmas day we went to my mother's. His family met us there because we weren't sure when we'd have to head to the hospital. Gifts were exchanged, everyone had a nice dinner (I had weak tea) and my contractions continued. We watched the Bells of St Mary's and my mother got progressively more nervous. Finally about 5:00 we left for the hospital. That Christmas day was the coldest on record; I can still remember the pain of the cold walking from the parking garage.

When we got to the hospital I got the same nurse that I'd had the year before and she was absolutely wonderful. I had a birthing room and my husband promptly fell asleep in the recliner. I told the nurse to leave him. My doctor was not on call on Christmas so I got the other doctor from the office who I had only met once before. He was nasty to me and worse to the nurses. When the baby was finally ready I was told not to push because the doctor was having cookies and eggnog. I requested the intern but the doctor did arrive in time for the birth (but not in time to perform an episiotomy.) Just after 9:30 I had a perfect but tiny baby girl. Bean weighed only 6 lbs. 1/2 oz.

Phone calls were made. I was moved to my room and my husband went home. Bean was moved to the nursery where the nurses slid her into this stocking. There were only three babies in the nursery and they all looked so cute in these stockings that had been handmade by a hospital volunteer. We stayed in the hospital three wonderful days. I missed BJ but I had been so worn out that it was wonderful to have all of the nurses and other staff dote on us. I had learned the year before that before Christmas the maternity ward is packed so that everyone could be home for Christmas.

The first sign of the trouble that lay ahead came on our third day when it was evident that I would not be able to nurse. For the next six months I wasn't sure that she would survive. She lost weight. She was allergic to the formulas we tried. A soy formula was the best available alternative at the time and she only kept down a small part of each feeding. She slept around the clock and had to be awakened for feedings. I kept her right next to my bed and checked on her several times a night. At her six week checkup she had gained very little, the newborn clothes still too big on her. She was anemic and I had to take her for regular blood work. They'd stick her tiny foot while I held her and cried. When she was four months old my husband finally moved in with his girlfriend. One burden had been removed and things got a bit easier for me. She started to stay awake more and keep a little more down, including the iron supplements. In June she finally turned the corner and started to grow and play and thrive.

She continued to amaze me as she grew into a womanhood. She always fought for what she believed in. She never gave up on anything. Today she is married, has her own business and two children of her own.

Someday I may pass this stocking on to her but for now it is mine. It once held the most precious Christmas gift I ever received.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas at Church

December 17 - Christmas Church Services
Did your family attend religious services
during the Christmas season?
What were the customs and traditions involved?
When my brother and I were in the choir we would have attended Christmas Eve service. I loved being in the youth choir! I looked forward to rehearsals and I remember how special I felt when we walked up the special stair case from the basement directly into the choir loft. Other than that I don't remember anything special or different at church. I'm sure that there were special things going on in Sunday school. I remember a huge, wooden nativity scene in front of the church. Dad did much of the woodworking for the church but I don't know if he worked on that or not. For a few years we had Advent Candles on the table that we lit each week. My memories of church are clearer of Easter services than of Christmas.

I no longer attended church services except for weddings and funerals. Most years I think about attending one of the local Christmas services but I never do go. I've been let down too many times by organized churches so, for now anyway, my relationship with Him remains a private one.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Caroling We Will Go

The weather outside is frightful so I'm going blog caroling with footnote Maven. The kids have been singing one of Thomas' carols for weeks now. My little ones have been struggling with the whole being good up until Christmas thing so I've been singing this twice a day for the last week.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Oh! You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why:

Santa Claus is coming to town!

He's making a list,
He's checking it twice,
He's gonna find out
who's naughty or nice.

Santa Claus is coming to town!

He sees you when you're sleeping,

He knows when you're awake.

He knows when you've been bad or good,

So be good for goodness sake!

So...You better watch out,
You better not cry
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

Little tin horns,
Little toy drums.
and rummy tum tums.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

Little toy dolls
that cuddle and coo,
Elephants, boats
and Kiddie cars too.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

The kids in Girl and Boy Land
will have a jubilee.
They're gonna build a toyland town
all around the Christmas tree.

Oh....You better watch out,
You better not cry.
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why.

Santa Claus is comin' to town!
Santa Claus is comin' to town!
Santa Claus is comin'
To town!

From Wikipedia:
"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (sometimes with Coming changed to Comin') is a Christmas song. It was written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, and was first sung on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music the next day and over 400,000 copies sold by Christmas.

Christmas at School

December 16 - Christmas at School
What did you do to celebrate Christmas at school?
Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?

We made ornaments and sang carols. There were music concerts but I don't remember any plays or pageants. There was always a small gift exchange the day before vacation.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Our Fireplace

December 15 - Christmas Grab Bag Author’s choice.
Please post from a topic that helps you
remember Christmases past!

Everybody knows that Santa comes through the fireplace and so we had one made of cardboard. The pesky detail of a chimney didn't concern us one bit. It was put together at about the same time that we put up our tree. I can't remember when we stopped putting it together but I'm betting that it is still up in Mom's attic.

Christmas 1966

There was a little light behind the logs with an aluminum thingamajig that spun around with the heat from the light and giving the illusion of a fire. Does anyone else have one of these? The first ads I've been able to find for them are from the 1940's when they cost about $1. Christmas 1971

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fruitcake – Friend or Foe?

December 14 - Fruitcake – Friend or Foe?
Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes?

Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake?

Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?
We have received a Fruitcake or two over the years. We did re-gift them, we took them to Mom's. I have no creative uses for them but I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with.

Not having much to say about Fruit Cakes myself, check out the Independence Fruit Cake Festival. Don't miss their Fruit Cake Sayings including this one from Johnny Carson

"There is only one fruitcake in the entire world,
and people keep sending it to each other."

Johnny Carson
They will also be opening last year's time capsule:

PLUS: The Fruitcake Time Capsule from last year's Festival will be opened. The Fruitcake King will select an official taster. Then the Fruitcake Time Capsule will be sealed for all Eternity (or until the next Festival - whichever comes first).
And finally, my favorites, the Fruitcake cartoons.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas and the Arts

December 13 - Christmas and the Arts
Did your family attend any special events
or performances during the holidays?
We have attended many Christmas concerts at school over the years. I sang in the chorus and later was in the band. All three of our kids were in the band. These days all the local schools have a day leading up to Christmas where they perform at the mall and I usually drive a group of kids down each year.

Our favorite thing to do in December is to catch the Christmas performance by the Acme Mystery Company at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Syracuse. They do murder mysteries all year long but in December there is a special holiday show where nobody dies but you still have a mystery to solve. The audience gets to participate and we always have a great time.

This time of year is always so busy and the weather so iffy that I'm more likely to see a play or concert at another time of the year.

An Advent Calendar count
down to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


New Year's Eve 1999 we were living in Liverpool, NY. We spent the evening with our friends, Joe & Jean, as we have every December 31st for more than 20 years. This was probably one of the last years that Joe & Jean's younger son, John, came with them. Generally we sit at the table and play games all evening and turn the TV on just before midnight to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

A few of things were different in 1999.
  • CNN had a special that day, showing all of the celebrations across the world as they happened so we watched that off and on all day long. We enjoyed some of the celebrations so much that we bought the tape and rewatch it most years. Sydney and Paris were my favorites.
  • Mike was just over a year old and since we would be at home anyway, I offered to babysit so BJ and Angie could go out. My alcohol consumption was adjusted accordingly.
  • Bean supplied us with party hats and noise makers when she and her boyfriend stopped by on their way to a party. She was that in between age, an adult but not yet 21 and I remember being very worried the entire time she was out. She has always had a good head on her shoulders and arrived home safely.
  • John was on call that year and he was required to be at home and available in case there were Y2K problems and the power grid failed. It didn't.
Despite all the hype and worries about computer problems New Year's 2000 was nothing spectacular, just a great evening spent with family and friends.

CNN's coverage of the Sydney Fireworks 2000

Written for the 38th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: The New Millennium

Charitable/Volunteer Work

December 12 - Charitable/Volunteer Work
Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as
a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter
during the holidays?
Were you able to make the holidays special
for someone less fortunate?
During my years as a Girl Scout and later as a Camp Fire Leader, Christmas Caroling at nursing homes was an annual event. As was making tray favors for nursing homes and Meals on Wheels.

I have never worked at a kitchen or shelter at the holidays. Home Bureau was a huge part of my life for a number of years and through that organization I participated in many community service projects, the majority of which were centered around nursing homes. These projects were year round, not just at holidays. When I was member of the Thursday Limerick, Too! chapter in Akron, NY we would adopt a unit at the Erie County Home each year making decorations and then helping the residents decorate their unit. We also picked up little gifts throughout the year that were distributed throughout the Home to those without family. We also made items for the nursing home in Batavia, NY.

I'm no longer a member of Home Bureau but I still believe that community service needs to be done all year. My projects center more on the young and the sick these days. I'm not committed to any one group or cause, rather when a need presents itself I do my best to fill it.

I'm grateful to the wonderful people at Echo Meals on Wheels that look out for Mom year round and the groups that provide little extras for them to distribute at Christmas time. She was quite tickled to receive a hand crocheted lap robe last year.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday Travel

December 11 - Holiday Travel
Did you travel anywhere for Christmas?
How did you travel and who traveled with you?
Do you remember any special trips?

There were two different periods when we lived in Akron, NY. We traveled the Thruway regularly to see family and Christmas was no exception. We often made the trip back to CNY and home again on Christmas Eve. There were a couple of years where we spent the night and stayed until Christmas. It never mattered what the weather was doing, we made the trip. We've never vacationed at Christmas time, although we talk about it often. Someday I want to exchange presents on a warm, sandy beach.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Gifts

December 10 - Christmas Gifts
What were your favorite gifts,

both to receive and to give?


Books were my refuge as a kid. I would have spent all of my time reading if I could have. I love to give books to others. My grandchildren know that they will each get a toy, some clothes and at least one book from me.

Mike was just selected for the "Challenge Team" at his school. He has to read several books and then his team will be quizzed on what they remember. Right now he is reading Charlotte's Web. Can you see me beaming with pride through your screen?

There are some special gifts that stand out. All of the handmade gifts that people have made for me over the years I still treasure. 1971 was the first year that Dad wasn't there for Christmas. My sister and I were moved into the larger front bedroom and I was allowed to pick out the bedspreads for our new room. Even though I knew what was under the tree the bedspreads were special because I felt grown-up by being allowed to pick them out and for be trusted to act surprised in front of my brother and sister on Christmas morning.

On Christmas Eve we play Steal Bingo. Everyone brings one gift with a dollar limit, usually $10. The gifts are placed in a pile and everyone who is playing draws a number. Number 1 opens a gift. Number 2 then can steal that gift or open another. If they steal, #1 then opens another. Number three may chose to steal either of the open gifts or they may open a new one. If they steal from #1 then #1 can steal from #2 or open. You may not steal directly back from the person that stole from you but anything else is fair game. When the majority of gifts are open the stealing is fast and furious! The game ends when someone chooses to open the last gift. We have played this with up to 20 people and we can get quite obnoxious with each other. If someone has a gift they don't want they may be begging to have their gift stolen and offering additional items to make the trade sweeter. Some couples or families are notorious for teaming up together to ensure they get what they want. Certain family members have been known to try and hide gifts so that they are not noticed. We always have a great time and everyone looks forward to playing.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Holiday Parties

December 9 - Holiday Parties
Did your family throw a holiday party each year?
Do you remember attending any holiday parties?
Host a party? LOL Dad would have had a fit if we'd invited people over. The only holiday parties we attended would have been with our scout troops or at church.

After I married John we attended the annual office party every year. I always looked forward to going - a night out, with no kids. It was great to get out but being in a room full of people that I didn't know and who were significantly older than me wasn't always fun. The parties were a lot more fun as I aged ; ) There used to be an annual Christmas party where I work but they haven't had one now in several years. We will have a holiday dinner in the break room a few days before vacation.

Most organizations that I've belonged to have some sort of special meeting or party at this time of year. This year I'll attend my garden club's party next week - if the weather cooperates.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Noel Wreaths

December 8 - Christmas Cookies
Did your family make Christmas Cookies?
How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?
Every year we looked forward to making sugar cookies. We always used my mother's best friend's recipe. Growing up I didn't realize that people made other types of cookies. Our kitchen was tiny but we managed to squeeze in. I still use that recipe and the sugar cookies are usually the first cookies I make. This year I will be making them with my grandchildren.

Over the years I have participated in many cookie exchanges with co-workers and friends and from these exchanges I've gained a large number of recipes that I start going through about this time each year. Some of the recipes were duds but the memories of the people they came from are keepers.

These days I make many different cookies as each of us has our own favorites. I put together several trays for family and friends each year and each tray also includes some super easy fudge.

My favorite Christmas cookies are Noel Wreaths. I cut the recipe from a magazine years ago but I no longer remember which magazine it was.

Noel Wreaths

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 teasp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. finely chopped walnuts
1/4 c. finely chopped raisins
1/4 c. honey
Red and Green candied cherries OR
Dried Cranberries

  1. Beat butter, sugar, egg & vanilla until fluffy. Stir in flour gradually to make a soft dough.
  2. Measure out 1/3 c. of the dough; transfer to a small bowl. Blend in walnuts, raisins & honey; reserve.
  3. Put remaining dough in a cookie press (or pastry bag) with a small star or round tip. Press out into 1 1/2" rings on ungreased cookie sheets. Fill center of each cookie with about a teasp. of the reserved nut mixture. Decorate with slivers of the candied cherries OR cranberries.
  4. Bake at 350° for about 12 min.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Rocket Ship

December 7 - Christmas Grab Bag Author’s choice.
Please post from a topic that helps you
remember Christmases past!

Christmas meant a trip downtown to visit Santa at the E. W. Edwards Department Store in Syracuse. The store had an Annex across the street from the main store that you got to through a tunnel that ran under the street, a real plus in Syracuse winters.

There we would find Toyland and Santa. But the best part was the monorail that traveled around the ceiling of the annex, called the Rocket Ship.

It appears that the ride first debuted in 1953, a year after the Annex was opened, and was originally called the "Rocket Express." It cost 9¢ to ride. From The Syracuse Herald-American, December 13, 1953, by Liz Dyer:

In one store you can get rid of junior (temporarily) by sending him on a rocket ship ride. He and his cohorts zoom merrily through the sky above the toy department. Luckily the windows of the rocket are "pressure" sealed. Junior is thus assured of plenty of oxygen. And daddy is assured of protection from becoming the object of a bombing mission.

For those of us that grew up in Syracuse during the 50's and 60's, this is a special holiday memory. Last year, Sean Kirst, a local columnist, wrote about Christmas memories of downtown that generated a lot of responses about the Rocket Ship. He then repeated an article that he originally wrote in 2000 here about the rebirth of a similar ride in Rochester.

The only pictures that I could find in old newspapers were the drawings from ads that I've included here and four fantastic pictures that the Onondaga Historical Association has in their Image Database. I can't link directly to the pictures so you will have to do a search for "Edwards". I was shocked when I saw these images and realized that we didn't travel several stories up as in my memories!

E. W. Edwards closed long ago and suburban malls have replaced shopping trips to the city so I count myself lucky to have been the right age at the right time to have been able to ride the Rocket Ship.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Santa Claus

December 6 - Santa Claus
Did you ever send a letter to Santa?
Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?”
Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

I still believe in the magic of Santa Claus. The picture below was taken at Santa's Workshop, North Pole, NY. Living so close to the North Pole how could I not believe? Most years we also visited Santa at the E. W. Edwards Department Store in Syracuse. More on that tomorrow!

Summer 1964, North Pole, NY

I do remember writing letters to Santa. Mom would look at the list and remind me that Santa couldn't possibly bring me everything. Somehow he always knew what the most important item on the list was and a couple of times he brought me things I didn't know I'd love until they appeared under the tree. I still write to him!

Mom remembers Santa actually visiting their house. He would show up loaded down with presents. It never failed that just before his arrival Mom's Aunt Ruby would have to use the outhouse and be disappointed that she had missed him. Finally one year Mom's sister felt that it was time that somebody put two and two together for Mom and Santa came no more.

Any day now some bully at work will tell one of my littlest ones the "truth" about Santa. It will be my job to tell everyone that Santa only brings presents to good little girls and boys who believe. Then I'll make the bully wait to get off last and when I have them alone they'll have to endure my lecture about the spirit of Christmas. I don't know if my lecture gets through to them or they just don't want to suffer the embarrassment of being the last one to go into school but we'll have no more trash talk about Santa!

I've transcribed some letters to Santa from 1931 here. And if you want to see what kids in the Utica, NY area are asking for this year, here's a link.

An Advent Calendar count down
to Christmas!

Who else is participating?

Visit Thomas at
Destination: Austin Family
and get the details!